Newsletter 2016 ed.8
EESC Opinion: European standards for the 21st Century
In October, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an opinion on the European Commission Communication on European Standards for the 21st century, published in June 2016.
The opinion was prepared by a group chaired by Benedicte Federspiel (ANEC General Assembly Member for Denmark and ANEC Treasurer). The opinion reflects ANEC’s views on inclusiveness of the European Standardisation System (ESS) and the need to increase consumer participation in standardisation.
Web-accessibility Directive adopted
On 26 October, the European Parliament adopted a Directive on the accessibility of web-sites and apps in the public sector.
Several years ago, we joined with AGE Platform Europe, the European Blind Union, and European Disability Forum in calling on the European Commission to make a legislative proposal that would deliver web accessibility for all.
The Parliament, in agreement with the Council, made significant improvements to the original Commission proposal published in December 2012. These included the scope of the web-sites covered, enforcement provisions, and addition of access from a handheld mobile device as well as mobile apps, in line with ANEC’s position.
ANEC issued a press release welcoming the adoption of the Directive.
ANEC supports European Accessibility Act
On 8 November, ANEC participated in a conference on the proposal for a European Accessibility Act, organised by the European Disability Forum with the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament. The event was hosted by MEP Olga Sehnalová.
ANEC Senior Manager, Chiara Giovannini, gave our views on the proposal and shared ideas on putting the Accessibility Act into practice.
ANEC-BEUC show Ecodesign savings
Ecodesign savings imageA new study by ANEC & BEUC confirms how crucial it is to safeguard Ecodesign. Indeed, a typical household saves at least €330 annually thanks to Ecodesign, and by doing nothing! This is because Ecodesign laws have enabled manufacturers to produce less energy-hungry products. And if consumers choose the top class of the Energy Label, their savings can jump to over €450 per year.
In addition to the economic benefits, Ecodesign delivers qualitative benefits to consumers such as quieter vacuum cleaners. The study also highlights that savings for consumers could be far higher if Ecodesign requirements were more ambitious and timely in their delivery.
EC Vice-Presidents speak at BEUC on Ecodesign
Speakers at BEUC event ANEC joined a roundtable on the benefits of Ecodesign, hosted by its sister organisation BEUC, that featured European Commission First Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, and Vice-President Jyrki Katainen on 8 November. The Vice-Presidents welcomed the recently published ANEC/BEUC study which came to conclusions similar to those in the EC assessment.
The Vice-Presidents delivered strong messages in support of Ecodesign and revealed the product groups that will be included in the long-awaited Working Plan to be released on 30 November. Of the 15 product groups initially considered by the Commission, six are retained: electric kettles; solar panels; lifts; hand dryers; building automation & control systems; refrigerated containers. These have been selected as the Commission believes their energy savings potential to be the highest. Toasters and hair dryers are excluded while smartphones are not mentioned.
ANEC President at CEN workshop on services
ANEC President, Arnold Pindar, participated in the CEN stakeholder workshop “From products to services. The evolving role of standards” on 26 October. He presented the challenges encountered by consumers in the European services market and put forward suggestions as to how services standards can tackle these challenges, keeping consumer principles at their core.
He drew attention to new trends faced by consumers: information overload; difficulty in identifying accurate information; lack of transparency about collection and use of data. He also addressed emerging consumer-to-consumer services that need further attention, and referred to ANEC’s longstanding call for a EU legislative framework for the safety of services.
The event included participants from the European Commission and from a wide range of service providers (from car sharing and digital services, to fire safety and funeral services). Discussions in breakout sessions reflected on the trends and challenges encountered by stakeholders in the services sector and how to prioritise those where standards have potential to support the performance of the service provision.
It also looked at fine-tuning a draft European strategy for services standardisation.
Market Surveillance & Enforcement
The European Commission carried out a public consultation on enforcement and market surveillance in the framework of the Single Market Strategy with deadline of 31 October. The aim was to collect opinions on the problem of non-compliant products in the market and the options for solutions.
ANEC and BEUC prepared a joint answer to this consultation. We also wrote to the Director-General of DG GROW to stress our concerns about the lack of progress on the revision of the current legal framework for product safety and market surveillance.
Lifts – revision of EN 81-70
Finalisation of the revision of EN 81-70, “Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts - Particular applications for passenger and good passenger lifts - Part 70: Accessibility to lifts for persons including persons with disabilities”, initiated on an ANEC proposal, was proceeding well. However, comments received during the public enquiry phase led CEN/TC 10/ WG7 to introduce a change to the contrast requirements for symbols on push buttons which will adversely affect the accessibility of lifts to those with visual impairments.
As a CEN Partner Organisation, ANEC fundamentally objected in answer to a ballot of CEN/TC 10 in October that was intended to launch the Formal Vote on the standard. We were supported by the European Blind Union. Following our fundamental disagreement, a second ballot is being held until 18 November 2016. Nevertheless, ANEC regrets that no attempt at finding a compromise has been made and will not support the launch of the Formal Vote of prEN 81-70 because of the new lower requirements for contrast. We call on our members and partners to object to this revision and support the development of a standard that includes the needs of consumers with visual impairments.
SBS annual conference 2016
SBS conference speakersOn 19 October, Small Business Standards (SBS) held its annual conference, focusing this year on “Reinforcing the cooperation within the standardisation community”.
ANEC Secretary-General, Stephen Russell, spoke during a panel to give the consumer views on service standardisation, the effectiveness of market surveillance & enforcement, and “Better Regulation”.
Car seats become more consumer-friendly
ANEC and Consumers International (CI) welcome the adoption of the second phase of Regulation 129 (R129) on enhanced child restraint systems (the “I-size Regulation”) by UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP 29) at its 170th session held in Geneva on 15-18 November.
The second phase of R129 covers non-integral enhanced child restraint systems, i.e. child seats with optional Isofix attachments in which children are secured with the car seat belt. Children taller than 100cm will be better protected from frontal impact, and especially side impact, as booster seats will need to be equipped with backrests for children of at least 135cm height. Please see our press release.
At the same WP 29 session, the ANEC/CI proposal to withdraw Isofix from Regulation 44 (R44) was also adopted in order to reduce overlap with R129 and avoid the sale of products offering different levels of safety. Hence, as of 1 September 2017, integral Isofix child seats will no longer be approved under R44. This is a very welcome step towards gradually phasing out the old Regulation R44 once Regulation 129 is complete.
CI publishes ‘We are all consumers’
In October, Consumers International (CI) released two new resources:
• A booklet, ‘Consumer Protection: why it matters to you’, which outlines the importance of the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection and what they offer to governments, businesses and civil society.
• A short film ‘We are all consumers’ which explains the importance of consumer protection and the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection in clear and simple terms.
Study visit of Moroccan ministry
On 9 November 2016, ANEC Programme Manager, Michela Vuerich, presented ANEC’s activities to a delegation from the consumer protection division of the Moroccan Ministry for Industry, Trade, Investment & Digital Economy. The visit was organised in the frame of the twinning project "mieux proteger le consommateur", aided by AB-REOC/BV-OECO, the Belgian member of the ANEC General Assembly. The meeting allowed the exchange of views on experiences in consumer protection and standardisation.
Helmut Hintz, ANEC Representative in the IEC and CENELEC technical committees on the safety of electronic equipment within the fields of audio-visual, information technology and communication technology, is retiring from the ANEC Digital Society WG.
At the IEC TC 108 meeting on 10-14 October in Frankfurt, Chiara Giovannini presented Helmut with a plaque marking his retirement and key achievements on behalf of ANEC. He was also awarded a certificate of high achievement by the IEC.
ANEC Secretary-General, Stephen Russell, added his thanks in writing to Helmut, noting his dedication in achieving consumer products that are safe for all.
We send Helmut our best wishes for the future.
Helmut Hintz Helmut Hintz and Chiara Giovannini